I have been fighting for a “fair trade” policy since I became a Member of Congress.
I was proud to lead the House efforts to defeat the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and most favored nation trade status for Communist China.
We are now seeing the results of a failed federal trade policy: shuttered factories, depleted tax bases, and families out of work.
Remember when NAFTA promised us millions of good jobs? Instead, we got the giant sucking sound of jobs leaving America.
NAFTA and similar agreements have devastated our great manufacturing sector, which has lost a third of its workers since 1994 as they are forced to compete on an unlevel playing field.
Multinational corporations are taking advantage of low-wage platforms in China, Mexico and other nations. Meanwhile, state-managed capitalist enterprises in nations such as Japan, Germany, and South Korea keep out American-made products.
It's time to wake up, stand up for our country, and renegotiate those trade agreements that move our jobs offshore.
WHAT UNFAIR TRADE HAS DONE TO OUR REGION
Working together, our businesses and labor organizations built Northern Ohio into an industrial powerhouse - always standing up for America, whether in war or peace.
Springing from the rich soils of the former Great Black Swamp, our farms combined with businesses and industries to form a diversified economy in the crossroads of America. That economy has weathered many economic storms, only to come back with even more vigor. Now, at the dawn of the 21st Century, the economy of Northern Ohio faces even greater challenges.
Unfair trade agreements like NAFTA are draining the economic lifeblood of our region. Unbalanced federal trade deficits have saddled future generations with staggering amounts of debt and drastically reduced their range of opportunities. Unequal funding formulas have denied many Ohio schoolchildren of an adequate education and threatened our economic future.
America's working men and working women and their families deserve a government that takes their side, not the side of big money. They deserve fair trade agreements that produce a level economic playing field, not a race to the bottom. They deserve fiscal responsibility, not budget and trade deficits for as far as the eye can see.
STEMMING JOBS LOSSES AND BALANCING OUR TRADE DEFICIT
We cannot sit by idly while American jobs are being shipped overseas, our manufacturing base is being eroded, our wages decline, and our economy is threatened by unfair trade agreements and ballooning trade deficits. Congress needs to take dramatic action to stop the downward economic spiral.
I have introduced two pieces legislation that are designed to tackle the problems associated with unfair trade agreements and our huge trade deficit. In order to address the negative impacts of NAFTA, I have introduced H.R. 191, the NAFTA Accountability Act. The bill withdraws the United States from NAFTA unless the President renegotiates terms of the agreement so that our trade deficit is stabilized, we have mitigated the adverse effects of currency distortions, and we have established and strengthened provisions to prevent imports of agricultural commodities from displacing United States agricultural production.
In addition, H.R. 191 also withdraws the United States from NAFTA unless members of the Administration can certify to Congress that since January 1, 1994 there has been:
• gains in jobs and living standards;
• increases domestic manufacturing;
• no reductions in health and environmental standards;
• no increases in pollution near the Mexico border;
• no increases in the importation of illegal drugs, and;
• that the Government of Mexico meets certain democracy and human freedom standards.
In an effort to stem job losses as a result of the trade deficit, I have also introduced and will fight passage of H.R. 192, the Balancing Trade Act. This legislation requires the President to take the necessary steps to eliminate or substantially reduce a trade deficit the United States has with any country if the trade deficit totals $10 billion or more for three consecutive years. Some economists estimate that each $1 billion in the trade deficit costs the United States more than 5,000 jobs. H.R. 192 would ensure that those job losses are stopped and the bill would prevent them from occurring in the future.
EXPANDING TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE
While I push for reforms in our trade agreements, we must ensure that support is provided for the workers being hurt by these unfair trade deals. I have been a consistent champion of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which provides job training and other assistance to workers who have been laid off due to trade. Each year I strongly advocate for full funding of all of the TAA programs, including TAA for Workers, TAA for Firms, and the new TAA for Communities program, which will allow areas to receive federal funding to develop a strategy to diversify and strengthen their economy.
NAFTA at TEN: Journey to Mexico
Report of the U.S. Congressional Delegation
November 14-18, 2003